CALLS have been made for Warwick District Council to halt plans to build new multi-million pound offices in Leamington.
The Conservative-led council plan to move from their current premises at Riverside House on Milverton Hill to a new purpose built £11million headquarters on the site of the current Covent Garden car park.
But the Labour members are urging to council to freeze its plans after a nearly 50 per cent overspend on updating the district’s leisure centres.
Developing the district’s Newbold Comyn and St Nicholas Park leisure centres has been a cause of controversy since it was first announced. There was fierce criticism of the plans to bring in a private contractor to run the leisure centres after the council spent £17million developing them.
And now the Labour councillors is say the council should save money by sharing headquarters with Warwickshire County Council at Shire Hall in Warwick, or move to Leamington’s Town Hall.
Labour councillor Matt Western said: “There is loads of empty space at Warwickshire County Council’s offices and there will be more – I know because I chair the committee at the WCC responsible for resources and buildings.
“There is space in Leamington Town Hall – our fabulous Victorian landmark for which the public feels tremendous civic pride. I believe we can make our much-loved Town Hall in Leamington work in delivering greatly needed local services and ensure its viability. This will save the taxpayer a lot of money which could be better invested in services, desperately needed social housing and a hostel for the homeless.”
But the council say the move from its aging Milverton Hill home would save money.
Bosses say the current building, which costs around £600,000 per year to run, is too big and has reached the end of its shelf life with some £1million in repair bills looming.
Council chiefs hope to save around £300,000 annually by moving to the new HQ which they say will be much smaller but more suitable for the 21st century needs of staff. They also claim the scheme will help to regenerate the area.
Tory district council leader Andrew Mobbs said: “This project is a priority for the council and critical to how we save money. Alternative options such as using a county council building in Warwick have been considered and rejected and the idea that the Town Hall can accommodate our staff and allow us to provide public services is completely unworkable.
“We are now at the stage where planning applications for the redevelopment of the Covent Garden and Riverside House sites are being finalised for submission in June.
“In the next few weeks a public exhibition of our exciting plans for the major re-development of part of Leamington will be held and we will let the Observer readers know the date of this as soon as it is confirmed.”